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College Hockey: Canisius, Niagara win conference games

Jimmy Mazza scored a power-play goal, his first tally of the season, to give Canisius an important Atlantic
Hockey Conference victory over Air Force, 3-2, on Saturday night at HarborCenter.

The Golden Griffins earned a split of the weekend series with the Falcons, who won the Atlantic Hockey Conference playoff championship last season to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament and finished second in the regular season.

It also evened the Griffs’ record at 2-2-1 overall and left them at 2-2 in conference play.

Canisius never trailed but twice saw the visitors erase one-goal leads before Mazza tallied his game-winner at 6:13 of the third with assists from Ryan Schmelzer and Jeff Murray.

Murray scored at 3:16 of the opening period, his first of the season, to put Canisius in front. Dylan McLaughlin and Nick Hutchison assisted. Kyle Mackey evened it for Air Force at 11:58 of the first. McLaughlin put Canisius back in front at 17:36 of the second. Mazza assisted. Matt Pulver tied it again for AFA at 4:40 of the third.

The Canisius penalty killers came up big. Air Force went 0 for 5 with the man advantage. Canisius was 1 for 3.

Junior Simon Hofley made 24 stops in goal for Canisius. Billy Christopoulos had 22 saves for Air Force.

After winning only six games all last season, Niagara stands 4-2 already in the 2017-18 campaign after Saturday’s 6-2 Atlantic Hockey victory over Sacred Heart at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. The Purple Eagles are 3-0 in conference after their sweep of their two-game series against the Pioneers.

Vito Bavaro gave Sacred Heart the lead just 1:59 into the second period but Niagara responded with five straight goals, all even strength except a short-handed tally by Eric Cooley at 1:26 of the third period. It was Cooley’s second goal of the game.

Nick Farmer tied it for Niagara at 3:13 of the second. Cooley made it 2-1 with 1:25 left in the second. Tanner Lomsnes followed Cooley’s short-handed tally with two goals. Derian Plouffe, who had the game winner in Niagara’s 3-2 victory on Friday, completed the scoring with a short-handed tally with 1:52 left in the game. Besides his goal, Plouffe had an assist.

Chris Harpur and Sean King each had an assist.

Brian Wilson made 24 saves in goal for Niagara. Sacred Heart’s Nathan Perry had 33 saves, 14 in the opening period. Neither side scored but the Purple Eagles had a 14-3 advantage on shots.

"I thought the guys really worked hard and earned every goal that they manufactured<" Niagara’s first year coach Jason Lammers said. "It was really excited to see how our team is maturing and responding after going down a goal again. It’s a really great growth point and the goals will keep coming if they keep doing what they’re doing. We knew they were going to come at us this weekend after picking up a win at Notre Dame [last weekend]."

The Purple Eagles will begin a four-game home stand next weekend against Bentley Falcons on Friday and Saturday. Both games will have 7:05 p.m. starts.

Buffalo State opened its season with a 4-3 victory over Nichols (Mass.) at the Bengals Sports Arena.

The Bengals overcame a 2-0 deficit after giving up two goals in the first 5:41. They got one back on the power-play when Zach Nieminen scored with 10:20 gone in the first then they add three unanswered tallies in the second one even-strength goals, the first by Hugo Petit and the next two by Anthony Passero.

Nichols narrowed the deficit with a goal with 1:10 left.

Buffalo State will begin its State University of New York Athletic Conference schedule at Geneseo on Friday night, then face Brockport at home on Saturday.



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